POPENKO-POPENKO
April 10 - May 23

Online exhibition


Born in Volgograd in 1951, Lusia Popenko moved to Moscow at the age of sixteen to study acting. While acting was her dream at the time, she chose to express herself through drawing, constantly and compulsively going through sketchbook after sketchbook. It was by mere chance that upon arriving in Moscow, where a vibrant art scene was beginning to thrive, she landed at the doorstep of an art school.

A chance, reinforced by her perceptive artistic personality and a natural talent for painting, thrust her into the art milieu. The emerging artist became close with one of Moscow’s most famous groups of young artists called the Left MOSH (Moscow Regional Union of Artists.) Vladimir Brainin, Kirill Mamonov, Tatiana Nazarenko and Natalya Nesterova were among its members. The theatricality of their works resonated with the creative ideas of Popenko. She was later influenced by Magical Realism, Surrealism and became interested in Hyper-Realism. Photographic images — often retro — became one of her major sources of inspiration. She evolved to create work that more and more resembled self-portraits. Popenko’s artistic universe, which was largely based around photographs from the first half of the 20th century, became inhabited by women resembling the artist herself. Her childhood dream of becoming an actress materialized when she — possibly subconsciously — became the star in her own paintings.

Lusia Popenko had participated in many group exhibitions around the world, had numerous solo shows and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity by donating her work to auctions, including Christie’s Charity Auction. Her works grace many private collections in Russia, USA, and Europe. She died in Moscow in 2016.


Born in Moscow in 1980, her son Ilya immigrated to the USA also at the age of sixteen. He graduated from Pratt Institute of Art and Design in New York and is now a photographer, illustrator, songwriter, filmmaker, and the founder and the frontman of the band Mad Meg, famous for its “Punk-Chanson-Noir” style.

As a photographer, Ilya Popenko explores the lines between national, collective and personal identities. His photography work ranges from street portraits and cityscapes to conceptual projects that involve models, theatrical lighting and hyper realistic latex masks.

Having two rival countries to call his home, but feeling like an alien in both of them, Ilya also set off to explore his hybrid identity in a series of large scale illustrations that feature nightmarish ornaments and scenes populated by characters and elements from Russian pop culture.

In a series of solo exhibitions that took place both in Russia and in the US, Ilya has been successful in combining his photography work and illustrations with performances by his music project Mad Meg. He has taken part in numerous group shows, and his most recent photo series ‘Vlad and John’ won First Prize at the annual PDN Magazine competition.